Tuesday, 5 November 2013


Reaction to change

How people react to change is largely dependent upon how they perceive the change will affect them.  While some people will respond positively to a change, most will experience loss.  Losses experienced during change include:-
  • Security "What is going to happen?"  "Where do I stand"
  • Competence "Will I be able to do it?"  "Can I learn how to do the new tasks?"
  • Relationships "How will I get on with people?"  "I'll miss my old friends".
  • Sense of direction "Where are we going"
  • Territory (physical and psychological).
People typically respond to loss by grieving, this is perfectly natural and helpful, and will generally follow these stages:
  1. Denial/shock
  2. Resistance/defensive retreat
  3. Exploration/reality acceptance
  4. Commitment/adaption and change
Stages of change
During change, people concentrate on the past, and deny the change.  Next, they pass through a period of preoccupation, wondering where they stand and how they will be affected.  This is normally where resistance occurs.  As they enter the exploration and commitment stages, they start to look towards the future and the opportunities it can bring.  

The following paragraphs describe the typical symptoms for stages of the grief curve and suggests simple strategies for managing them.

The effect change has on people
One of the most common errors managers make in managing change is underestimating the effect it has on people.  Managers need to help their people through the grief curve by helping them let go of the past.  This can be done by:-
  • Publicly acknowledging the losses people are experiencing.
  • Publicly acknowledging the positive aspects of the past and how important they were at the time.
  • Encouraging gatherings that bring people together to remember the past, tell stories about it, acknowledge how important it was at the time, remind them it wasn't always like that ie they've been through change before and coped and times may be different in the future but not necessarily any less enjoyable.  Encouraging goodbye parties etc.

Often these events have a way of springing up almost spontaneously.  Management sometimes makes the mistake of thinking such events are childish or unnecessary.  When people are not given an opportunity to grieve, they move forward at a slower pace.  In the long run, this holds up productivity and prolongs resistance.  Saying goodbye is especially important for people left behind in the case of a reorganisation.  The"survivors" often feel guilty, bitter, distrustful and depressed.  Those left behind also need a chance to say goodbye to the people who have gone.


Change is all around us, in our personal lives as well as at work.  How we handle and manage change differs between individuals and very often depends on our emotions as well as the facts surrounding the actual change.

Change in itself is neither a good nor a bad thing, it is often the attitude of the person implementing and receiving the change which can dictate its success or otherwise.
The management of change, or 'Change Management' as it has become known, is often seen as something that is for the exclusive use of senior professionals or consultants.  But increasingly more and more employees at supervisor or middle management level are getting involved with implementing changes in the way things are done.  It is therefore crucial that all managers have the opportunity to understand how to handle change effectively.

With a basic understanding of the key building blocks of managing change, individuals at all levels of the organisation can face change with more confidence.

IMPORTANT - Successful Change Management means recognising all the forces at play in a change situation, identifying the key groups affected by the change and building a communication process which involves these groups in the change initiative

By splitting a change programme into a series of building blocks and short-term objectives, a long-term vision becomes both more manageable and more motivating.
The key building blocks are:
  • Identify the Vision (ie. what the change is).
  • Where Are We Now?
  • Where Do We Want To Be?
  • Gap Analysis
  • Training Needs Analysis
  • Transition Plan
  • Implementation
  • Post Implementation Review
This basic structure can be used in varying degrees depending on the size and complexity of the change.
In addition to the building block structure, following some basic principles should also help ensure the change is not doomed to failure from the start:
Be clear on what kind of change is required.

  • Plan, plan, plan
  • Pre-empt resistance
  • Set short-term goals
  • Prepare employees
  • Communicate
  • All hands on deck
  • Avoid complacency
  • Prepare for the unpredictable
However it is also helpful to be aware of some of the reasons why change fails:

  • Misunderstanding of what change is
  • Lack of planning and preparation
  • Change programme has no clear vision
  • Goals are set, but too far in the future.
  • The quick-fix option
  • Poor communication
  • Lack of involvement
  • The history of previous change
  • The way we do things around here'
  • Employee resistance
  • Lack of leadership alignment
  • Fear of failure

Monday, 4 November 2013



Your objective when coaching someone is to get them to change. That objective can sometimes be achieved by means of constructive criticism alone, provided it is sufficiently specific. But what if they remain unwilling or unable to change?

A common reaction is to increase the pressure, raise the voice, argue, threaten, in other words, attempt to achieve change by force. Sometimes it works. But usually it results in making people even more resistant.

What it fails to do is take account of the obstacle. If your first attempt didn't achieve the desired change, it is unlikely that you will succeed by repeating the same method, however loudly. What you need is an entirely new method. Why not stop forcing, and, instead, analyse the obstacle?

Obstacle analysis gets better results with far less effort. Once the obstacle has been understood it is not normally difficult to overcome it. Change will occur faster and without friction. Obstacle analysis is therefore a much subtler and more economical method of achieving change than force. It is based on listening, not telling. So here is a suggested plan for coaching:

Step 1 - Give constructive criticism. Motivate them to change by giving praise and criticism.

Step 2 - Analyse the obstacle.  If, having accepted the criticism, they show signs of being unwilling or unable to change, switch to listening/counselling, and find out exactly what is preventing them from changing.

Step 3 - Overcome the obstacle. If you have done a good job of obstacle analysis, the way to overcome it is usually not hard to find.

Step 1 - criticise constructively
Mgr: "I'm impressed with your attention to detail. This is a very thorough report."
Sub: "Thanks. I enjoyed doing it."
Mgr: "There is one thing that worries me about it."
Sub: "What’s that?"
Mgr: "There’s no summary. So I had to keep going back over the report."
Sub: "Oh, I see. Sorry about that." (Frowns.)
Step 2 - analyse the obstacle
Mgr: (Watching attentively and using empathy) "Something's bothering you."
Sub: "I'm not sure about summaries."
Mgr: (Open question) "What worries you about them?"
Sub: "Don't people find it patronising if you spell out the obvious?"
Mgr: (Reflecting back the underlying assumption) "You seem to be making an assumption there. You're assuming that if it's obvious to you it must be obvious to others."
Sub: "Yes, I suppose I am."
Step 3 - overcome the obstacle

Mgr: (Correcting the false assumption) "How sound is that assumption? After all, they have probably got other things on their mind, and in any case they're probably not as familiar with the subject as you are."
Sub: "Good point. I never thought of it that way. OK, I'll put summaries in from now on."
Mgr: "Now I’m satisfied."

Sunday, 3 November 2013



You can increase your awareness of feelings by spending time thinking about them.  The more you practice it, the more conscious of them you will become.

There are hundreds of emotional states and blends of emotional state.  The scientific debate is not yet resolved about whether there are primary emotional states (like the red, blue, yellow of the colour spectrum) from which all the others are derived, and if so which they are.  

Many researchers classify emotional states into families.  The following list is based on Daniel Goleman's list of the main candidates, and some of their family members:

Angry, furious, outraged, resentful, exasperated, frustrated, indignant, vexed, annoyed, irritated, disappointed, misunderstood, despised, insulted, injured.

Sad, Unhappy, grieving, sorrowful, gloomy, lonely, dejected, discouraged, disheartened, demoralised, miserable, despairing.

Worried, anxious, apprehensive, nervous, concerned, wary, doubtful, alarmed, hurt, intimidated, frightened, terrified.

Happy, joyful, relieved, content, delighted, amused, proud, thrilled, gratified, satisfied, blissful, ecstatic, respected, understood.

Love, accept, trust, respect, adore, warm, friendly, kindly, close, devoted, proud of, impressed.

Surprised, astonished, amazed.

Disgusted, contemptuous, disdainful, scornful, averse, revolted.


Ashamed, guilty, embarrassed, remorseful, humiliated, regretful, mortified, contrite.



Is there a key to becoming more effective with people?

Yes, there is.  It is to increase your "emotional intelligence".  The idea of emotional intelligence has been gaining currency since psychologist and journalist Daniel Goleman wrote a best selling book of that name in 1995.  He defines it as a set of learned skills - unlike IQ, which is fixed from birth.  He describes the research which proves that the more emotionally intelligent you are, the more likely you are to succeed - both at work and in life.

What is emotional intelligence?

Why do people with high IQs often flounder in their careers, and those with low IQs often do surprisingly well?  Why are some people better than others at controlling their impulses and achieving their goals?  Why are some people more able than others to create and maintain successful relationships?

The answer, according to the latest scientific research, is that it depends on how you have learned to deal with emotion. 
DEFINITION - Emotional intelligence is a set of skills for dealing with emotions.

There is strong evidence that people with it are significantly more successful in their relationships, careers, and achievements, than those without it.  Some writers have called it "EQ".  IQ is a quite different kind of intelligence, genetically pre-determined and fixed for life.  EQ is learned, and it is never too late to learn it.

So what are its components? 
The core skill is:
 IMPORTANT - Being consciously aware of one's emotions

Many of us have been taught to suppress emotions - a lesson strongly reinforced by upbringing, education and experience.  Reversing this lesson is not easy, but research shows that unless we are first aware of our emotions we cannot gain control of them.

Closely linked with emotional awareness are 2 other skills, both to do with being able to communicate with other people about emotions:

 IMPORTANT - Being able to recognise and acknowledge emotions in others 

In other words, empathy.  Without empathy, it is difficult to gain people's trust, create rapport, influence people, develop their abilities etc.

 IMPORTANT - Being able to make others acknowledge our emotions

In other words, being assertive.  It is hard, without being assertive, to gain people's respect, set them high standards, and hold them to their obligations.

These are the basic building blocks of emotional intelligence.  With them it becomes possible to control one's emotional impulses, create and maintain successful relationships, and achieve one's goals. 


The answer to this question largely depends on your answers to these questions:
1. Does your success at work depend on how people react to you?
If no, you have no need.
If yes, read on.
2. Are you aware of the effect you have on people?
If no, you do have a need.
If yes, read on.
3. Are you aware of how you have that effect on people?
If no, you do have a need.
If yes, read on.
4. Do you often have the effect on people you mean to have?
If no, you do have a need.
If yes, read on.
5. Could an increase in your effectiveness with people make you even more successful than you already are?
If no, you have no need.
If yes, read on.
How can I find out what effect I have on people?
You will get more reliable feedback by asking rather than guessing.  But it takes courage.  Here is a suggestion about how you might do it.
Pick 2 or 3 people you trust, and talk to them along these lines:
"I'm keen to find out how I can improve as a leader/manager/team member/influencer.  I need feedback from people who know what it is like working with me.  You are one of the people whose feedback would be helpful to me.  I want to ask specific questions and I need you to be honest with me.  I will not take offence or hold it against you if you criticise.  Are you willing to help me in this way?"
The more specific the feedback the more valuable it will be - this applies equally to praise as to criticism.  You can help people be specific with their feedback by being specific with your questions, e.g.:
"Can you tell me on a 0 - 10 scale how satisfied you are with the way I run my meetings?  Specifically what do you like and dislike about it?"
Even though the numbers are purely subjective, if you ask someone to identify their strength of feeling on a numerical scale, the feedback will be clearer than if they have to rely on imprecise words such as "very", "not very" or "reasonably".